Category Archives: Nesting & Courtship

First Egg of 2019 at Pitt Peregrine Nest

Hope with her first egg of 2019 (snapshot camera), 11 March 5:37pm

Monday, 11 March 2019:

This afternoon at about 5:22pm Hope, the female peregrine falcon at the Cathedral of Learning, laid her first egg of the season.

Here she is in two snapshots, above and below.

Hope with her first egg (main camera), March 13, 5:35pm

Every year she lays an egg approximately every other day until she reaches a total of four. Expect her next egg on March 13.

Watch her on the National Aviary falconcam.

(photos from the National Aviary falconcams at University of Pittsburgh)

She Looks Egg-y

Hope at the Cathedral of Learning nest, 2 March 2019

Hope, the female peregrine at Pitt’s Cathedral of Learning nest, looks as if she is ready to lay an egg.

She hadn’t done so as of 2 March 2019 at 9:30a but she’s clearly getting ready. Her earliest egg date in the past has been March 6.

Since I’m traveling in Hawaii right now I’ll probably miss the first egg moment but I know you’ll keep me posted.

Watch her on the National Aviary falconcam at:

(photo from the National Aviary falconcam at University of Pittsburgh)

Love Is In The Air

Harmar bald eagle calls from her perch (photo by Gina Gilmore)

Love is in the air at the Harmar bald eagle nest. Gina Gilmore saw lots of activity last weekend.

Sometimes the female calls for her mate (above). He flies in to see her and they mate (on 8 Feb).

Harmar bald eagles mating, 8 Feb 2019 (photo by Gina Gilmore)

… and mate again (on 10 Feb).

Harmar bald eagles mating, 10 Feb 2019 (photo by Gina Gilmore)

They’re getting ready to nest, though their first egg is at least a week away, maybe more.

Harmar bald eagles near each other (photo by Gina Gilmore)

The Harmar pair historically lays 10-18 days later than the Hays bald eagles whose first egg arrived this week on 12 Feb 2019 at 6:45pm. In 2015-2018, Harmar’s first egg was between February 20 and March 9.

This year there’s no camera on the new Harmar nest so we’ll have to watch the female’s behavior to know when her first egg arrives.

In the meantime love is in the air. Happy Valentine’s Day!

(photos by Gina Gilmore)

Watch a Nest in Bermuda

Screenshot from the Bermuda cahow cam at Cornell Lab

Nesting season began last month for this pair of Bermuda cahows when the female laid her single egg on 10 January 2019. The parents are now taking turns at incubation duty. They expect the egg to hatch in early March.

Watch them in their nest burrow at Cornell Lab’s Bermuda Cahow Cam.

And for a preview of things to come, here’s a video of last year’s activity.

(screenshot from the Bermuda cahow cam and a video of 2018 Bermuda cahow highlights, both from Cornell Lab of Ornithology)

Peregrines Are Pairing Up

Peregrine pair at Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Nov 2018 (photo by Chad+Chris Saladin)

While we wait for the first egg at the Hays bald eagle nest, other raptors are getting into a breeding mood. Red-tailed hawks are soaring together. Peregrines are pairing up.

Pittsburgh’s peregrines won’t lay eggs until March but they’re already busy claiming territory, attracting mates, and courting. You’ll see them perching near each other in prominent locations, engaging in spectacular courtship flights, the male bringing food for his lady, and the pair bowing at the nest (only visible on a falconcam). This activity makes February and March my favorite months for peregrine watching.

Claiming territory is a blatant activity but the peregrine’s first egg date is nearly impossible to determine without a falconcam. Unlike bald eagles, peregrines nest on inaccessible ledges and don’t begin incubation until the next to last egg has been laid. The only sign that they’re incubating is that you see only one peregrine for more than a month; the other one’s on the nest.

Thanks to the falconcam at the University of Pittsburgh’s Cathedral of Learning we know that the resident female, Hope, lays her first egg between March 6 and 15. She and her mate Terzo are already courting as seen on Monday Feb 4. Watch them on the National Aviary’s streaming falconcam.

Hope and Terzo bow at the Cathedral of Learning nest, 4 Feb 2019 (photo from the National Aviary falconcam)

Visit the sites below to see Pittsburgh’s peregrines in person. Every site (except Pitt) needs additional observers and every observation is useful. You can help! Leave a comment if you want to join.

RegionNesting Territory
City of PittsburghCathedral of Learning
Downtown Pittsburgh
Monongahela WatershedWestinghouse Bridge
Elizabeth Bridge
Ohio River ValleyMcKees Rocks Bridge
Neville Island I-79 Bridge
Monaca/Beaver bridges
Allegheny River ValleyHarmar: Hulton Bridge
Tarentum Bridge
Kittanning: Graff Bridge

For additional information and resources see my Peregrine FAQs page.

(photo by Chad+Chris Saladin of the peregrine pair at Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Ohio. Yes, they perch in trees there.)

Waiting For The First Eagle Egg

Hays bald eagle pair, 3 Feb 2019 (photo by Dan Dasynich)

Bald eagle nesting season has come to western Pennsylvania. Our favorite pair at Hays Woods finished their new nest in early winter and are spending lots of time together. The Hays eaglecam is up and running. Everyone’s ready for eggs.

Yesterday Dan Dasynich spent time on the Three Rivers Heritage Trail taking photos of the eagles. He captured this one just after they had a mating session. Then the male flew off downriver.

Because the Hays pair has been on camera for five years we have details of their nesting history. From 2014 through 2018 the female laid her first egg between February 10 and February 19.

Her earliest date was in an unusual year. In 2017 she laid her first egg on February 10 but the nest tree blew down on February 12 so the pair built another nest very quickly. She laid her first egg in the replacement nest on 20 Feb 2017.

If history is any guide, the first egg is one to two weeks away. Meanwhile the Hays eagles are putting finishing touches on the nest, the male is bringing food for his lady, and they mate many times.

When will the first egg arrive? Watch for it on Audubon Society of Western PA’s camera at Hays, PA Bald Eagle Nest

Eagle eggs are coming soon.

(photo by Dan Dasynich)

UPDATE: First egg was laid on Tuesday 12 Feb 2019 at 6:45pm

First egg at Hays bald eagle nest, 12 Feb 2019, 6:45pm (photo from the Hays eaglecam at ASWP)

No Nest At Gulf This Year

Gulf Tower nestbox, 24 Jan 2019 (snapshot from National Aviary’s Gulf Tower falconcam)

Every spring we wonder where the Downtown peregrines will choose to nest. In the past seven years Dori has chosen Third Avenue four times, Gulf Tower twice, and once an alcove at the former Macy’s. She prefers Third Avenue even though the season ended badly there last year.

This year we know Dori won’t be using the Gulf Tower nestbox. The building’s pyramid roof and exterior walls need critical maintenance and work is already underway. Rather than risk a failed peregrine nest attempt, the nestbox was removed yesterday in hopes that Dori will choose another site, which she’s likely to do anyway.

To give you an idea of the building’s dilemma, here’s what’s up. During a routine exterior inspection last summer significant problems were found on all sides of the building and on nearly every elevation. Worse yet, the top six stories — the pyramid tower — were found to be missing more than 85% of their mortar joints. The conditions are so severe that they require immediate remediation.

The photo below shows the Gulf Tower in 2017 with a yellow circle for the nestbox location. Peregrines don’t like to nest where humans are above the nesting zone.

Gulf Tower, location of nest as seen from Flag Plaza (photo by John English)
Gulf Tower, nest location as seen from Flag Plaza (photo by John English)

Because the work affects the peregrines, Gulf Tower management conferred with the Pennsylvania Game Commission who provided recommendations: initially (a) Don’t work during the nesting season blackout dates, Feb 15th to July31st, then (b) a variety of strategies to try to exclude and deter the birds prior to the onset of nesting season, such as removing the nest box.

Given the masonry crisis there really wasn’t a choice. Remember when a 1,500 pound cornice fell from the Frick Building 18 months ago? Fortunately no one was hurt but the streets were closed for three weeks while crews constructed protective walls and encapsulated the damaged granite. Then repairs began. (Click here for WTAE video, here for P-G article.) Rugby Realty owns both the Frick Building and the Gulf Tower so they know exactly what can happen. They can’t afford to delay Gulf Tower repairs.

So this year there’s no Gulf Tower nestbox and no falconcam. However building management plans to complete masonry repairs by the end of 2019 and reinstall the nestbox for the 2020 season. The falconcam will be back next year.

For now we know where the Downtown peregrines won’t nest but not where they will nest. Dori is very creative. If she doesn’t choose Third Avenue I’ll be asking you to search for her just as we did in 2015.

(photo of nestbox from the National Aviary falconcam at Gulf Tower; photo of the Gulf Tower by John English)

Nesting Season Begins for Bermuda Cahow

Bermuda cahow returns from the sea for the 2019 nesting season (photo from the Bermuda Cahow Cam at Cornell Lab)

The nesting season began for this Bermuda cahow when she returned to her nest burrow on Wednesday 9 January 2019 at 11:55pm (almost midnight). By 1am she had laid her single egg. Click here for a video.

Cahows or Bermuda petrels (Pterodroma cahow) live on the open ocean and only come to land on dark nights during the nesting season, placing their nests in underground burrows on small inaccessible islands to protect them from predators. Humans used to be one of those predators. We ate them. By 1620 cahows were presumed extinct.

When cahows were rediscovered in 1951 there were only 18 nesting pairs on Earth, but thanks to the conservation efforts of David B. Wingate and the Cahow Recovery Project there are now more than 135. Most of them are on Nonsuch Island where many burrows are man-made to provide additional nesting sites. This burrow has a camera.

The pair that “owns” this burrow came back in November to refurbish the site, court and mate. In December they returned to the sea. Then on Wednesday the female returned to lay her egg and begin incubation. Her mate will arrive and take over incubation so she can go back to the ocean to eat.

Cahows are nocturnal so you’ll see them most active when it’s night in Bermuda. Watch their family life on the Bermuda Cahow Nestcam. Stay up to date on Twitter at @BermudaCahowCam.

(photo from the Bermuda Cahow Cam; click on the caption to see it “Live”)

A Rare Sighting

Hope at the Pitt peregrine nest, 17 Dec 2018

Pittsburgh’s peregrines rarely visit their nests in December and when they do it’s for a very short time.

Here are three snapshots of a quick visit Hope made to the Pitt peregrine nest on Monday 17 December 2018. She was there only two minutes.

Checking out the scrape, 17 Dec 2018
… and she’s gone, 17 Dec 2018

(photos from the National Aviary snapshot camera at Univ of Pittsburgh)

In Case You Missed It: Eagle News

Bald eagle in Pittsburgh (photo by Dana Nesiti)

Pittsburgh’s bald eagles have been busy this month. Here’s the latest news in case you missed it.

If I’ve missed something let me know and I’ll post it here.

(photo by Dana Nesiti, Eagles of Hays PA)